TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Gubernatorial challenger Walt Maddox kicked off a statewide bus tour Monday, taking his message on the road as he seeks to gain ground against incumbent Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.
The Democratic nominee began the tour in Tuscaloosa where he is mayor. Describing himself as the only candidate in the race talking about the state’s “big problems”, Maddox is running on a platform of establishing a state lottery to fund education programs and expanding Medicaid. Standing with his wife, Stephanie and his two children, Maddox said the race is about ensuring the state’s children have opportunities.
Read more: Complete Walt Maddox bus tour schedule
“Our state is not where it needs to be. We are at, or near, the bottom in everything that matters, everything,” Maddox said. “And they deserve to grow up in a state that can provide them the opportunities that I’ve had, that your families have had.”
Alabama has not elected a Democrat to the governor’s office since 1998 when Don Siegelman won after campaigning on a lottery that voters later rejected. To win, Maddox will need support from some Republicans and independents, similarly to U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and his victory over Roy Moore last year.
Maddox said he thinks he can do that by talking about the issues that affect people’s lives. He joked he won his first convert in 2010 with his wedding to wife Stephanie, who is a Republican.
Maddox said he hopes to speak with all sorts of voters during the tour, including those that “who may or may not vote for you. … But that doesn’t matter because when you put your hand on that Bible, you represent everyone.”
Maddox is proposing a state lottery to fund college scholarships and other education programs. He said expanding Medicaid, as 34 states have done, could stop the closure of rural hospitals, which have been shuttering in rural communities due to financial pressures.
“If you are in Haleyville, Alabama right now you’ve had to experience an increase in taxes because your hospital is on the verge of closing. If you are in Alex City right now, your hospital could close. All because we didn’t expand Medicaid.”
Maddox also continued to take jabs at Ivey for refusing to debate him. The Republican incumbent said last week that there was no need for a debate because “Alabamians know my record. They know what I stand for.”
“One thing Governor Ivey can’t avoid is the Nov. 6 election. The people will ultimately determine this with their ballot. It doesn’t hurt me that she doesn’t want to debate. It hurts the people of Alabama.”